Proponents of Russia’s anti-gay laws have claimed since their implementation that they don’t discriminate against or oppress anyone; finally, the mayor of Sochi, Anatoly Pakhomov, has explained how so, at least in his area—there simply aren’t any gay people there.
When an incredulous BBC reporter, John Sweeney, challenged him on that claim, given that he had been in one of Sochi’s two gay bars just the night before, Pakhomov retorted, “I am not sure, but I don’t bloody know them.”
…ah. So if he can’t see them, they must not exist. Even though object permanence is generally believed to be acquired within the first two years of life, as a politician perhaps Pakhomov hasn’t quite reached that developmental stage.
Additionally, because he’s a politician, any LGBT person who happened to be acquainted with him isn’t too likely to come out to him after the recent passage of a law intended to force the LGBT community back into the closet in the name of “protecting the children.” With “homosexual propaganda” now illegal and ill-defined, just coming out to an official like Pakhomov in a way that so much as implies it’s not a horrible death sentence to be gay—especially if there’s some miniscule chance that a child could be within earshot—seems like a surefire way to get arrested.
But sure, Mr. Mayor, go on believing there’s no gay people in your little corner of the world. Or at least that they’re only gay behind closed doors, because truly, nobody has an orientation at all unless they’re actively looking for or having sex right that second.
The BBC also quoted Russian president Vladimir Dracul Putin as stating in a televised speech, “We are not banning anything and we won’t arrest anyone. You can feel free in your relationships but leave children in peace.” He has also explained, “We don’t have a ban on non-traditional sexual relations. We have a ban on promoting homosexuality and paedophilia among minors.”
In other words, big surprise: the concern isn’t so much about protecting children’s minds from corruption as protecting their bodies from violation, because those queers have gotta get ‘em while they’re young, or they’d never want anything so outrageous as anal sex and equality, right?
It could be said that the media is partly responsible for this conflation; as the Box Turtle Bulletin pointed out in a 2005 article, “when men molest little girls, they’re specifically called ‘pedophiles’ or ‘sexual predators.’ But when men molest boys, they’re simply called ‘homosexuals,’ as though sexual orientation were responsible for driving these men to their crimes.”
Is there a connection? In a word, NO. But to elaborate, the Box Turtle Bulletin article makes some interesting points:
Part of the confusion between homosexuality and the molestation of young boys comes from the terminology used by researchers themselves. If an adult male molests a young boy, that type of molestation is typically called a “homosexual molestation”. But when described this way, the term “homosexual” is used as an adjective in its most literal sense—the victim and perpetrator are of the same sex. It doesn’t refer to the sexual orientation of either the victim or the perpetrator.
Unfortunately, researchers aren’t always careful with how they use the word “homosexual” in their academic writings. After all, they understand the clinical meaning of the word according to context. “Homosexual abuse” merely describes the same-sex nature of the abuser and victim, not the sexual orientation of either the abuser or victim. And they often use the shorthand “homosexuals” to describe the men who abuse boys. But when they go the extra step of determining the actual sexual orientation of child molesters, they tend to be more careful. Some, like Dr. [Kurt] Freund, prefer the clinical terms “androphile” (attracted to men) and “gynophile” (attracted to women) to describe those who are attracted to adults.
This point is crucial, one that many anti-gay activists are very hostile towards. Peter LaBarbera, of Americans for Truth, exclaimed, “Who cares if a guy is married? If he’s molesting boys, that’s homosexual behavior. It’s academic nonsense to talk about these people as heterosexuals.”
But it’s not nonsense at all. If a man is married, he’s not among the 3% who said they were gay in our stadium survey. He’s not among the gay couples who are adopting children or seeking to marry. He’s hidden among those who claim to be straight. If law enforcement were to focus their efforts on finding sexual predators among the “out” 3% who claim to be gay, 97% of male abusers of young boys would go unpunished.
Frustratingly, not everyone is interested in facts, especially those that threaten their world views. For an increasingly large number of people around the world, it’s clear that the only thing the LGBT community threatens is outdated, oppressive traditions—but as the founder of Colorado for Family Values, Tony Marco, pointed out, “It is easier to nauseate than it is to educate.”